A Boston-Based Company Has to Pay More Than Half a Million Dollars for Failing to Compensate Interns

Search Fund Accelerator, an investment services firm in the Back Bay, had 180 unpaid interns and just 12 paid employees over two years, an investigation conducted by Attorney General Maura Healey found.

A pile of $100 bills

Photo via iStock/Sami Sert

Sure, experience is nice. And yes, a strong letter of recommendation can pay dividends. But really, if you’ve got hard-working interns in the building, compensating them with either a paycheck or class credit should be a no-brainer.

Apparently, one Boston-based company didn’t get the memo.

Search Fund Accelerator, an investment services firm in the Back Bay, will pay $550,000 after a state investigation found that over the course of two years, it had more than 180 unpaid interns and just 12 paid employees, the Boston Business Journal reports. The confounding number boils down to 30 interns a semester and a whopping 15 interns per paid employee over the two-year period. The firm relied heavily on unpaid employees who were not given class credit, worked more than 30 hours a week, and were tasked with similar duties as their paid counterparts, Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement to the BBJ.

According to Healey, the “interns” should have been making at least $11 an hour, the minimum wage in Massachusetts. On average, each of the 180 unpaid employees will receive at least $2,100, and one person will be paid upwards of $13,000, the BBJ reports.

Summer interns are expected to work at least 40 hours a week for 12 weeks at Search Fund Accelerator, and spring interns have to commit to at least 12, 20-hour weeks to join the program. According to the Search Fund Accelerator website, past participants have gone on to work at some of the largest names in financial services, including Goldman Sachs, Bain Capital, and Ernst and Young—all of which generously compensate their interns.